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7 of the best sustainable and eco-friendly festivals in Europe
Party big – but with minimal environmental impact.
Just because they take place in fields and have a historically hippy rep, that doesn’t mean that festivals are inherently eco-friendly. In fact, mini makeshift cities impose a shocking bounty of rubbish and greenhouse gases on the planet – and that’s not even to mention those tonnes of ocean-annihilating glitter.
But new festivals are emerging with a focus on big ideas for saving the planet, and already established events are re-thinking old habits. Here are some European festivals that are doing their bit to minimise their impact while maximising their opportunity to educate the raving masses.
Where: Villa Arconati, Milan, Italy | MAP
When: June 26-28
Sustainability is Terraforma’s very raison d’etre. A far cry from weeing in streams and flinging cans, here festival goers actively take part in restoring the festival space that they inhabit, with the option of working on the rebuilding of a historical Labyrinth gardens. A waste management programme looks set to become the benchmark that all others will follow, with an investigative report following each event. Work is carried out with local young architects to build a space made from sustainable materials. While its music programme for 2020 is yet to be announced, expect a crop of some of forward-thinking musicians and DJs, plus three days of workshops and lectures on a range of big ideas for the future generations.
Where: Archangelkade, Amsterdam, the Netherlands | MAP
When: April 11-12 2020
DGTL’s goal is to become the world’s first circular festival. At the heart of its manifesto lies its ‘sustainable big three’: reusable cups, a smart energy plan and a meat-free menu. It sees the festival as an opportunity to learn, creating a mini city within an abandoned shipyard in which forward-focussed eco-design of the future can be tested out. The line-up is equally dynamic, with exciting dance music illuminati – including Âme, Marcel Detmann, Honey Dijon, Sven Väth and a live set from Octo Octa – littering the bill.
Where: Secret country estate, Northamptonshire, UK
When: August 27-30 2020
Shambala’s tagline is "Adventures in utopia" and the whole experience is unabashed in its change-your-outlook goals. The entire festival is powered by 100% renewable energy, plus it has recently gone meat and fish free, and Recycling Exchanges mean that they recycle at double the rate of an average festival. This year’s line-up is still largely under wraps, but expect circus acts, drag bingo, a kids area and an activist hub alongside a reliably left field musical offering.
4. Green Man
Where: Crickhowell, Brecon Beacons, UK | MAP
When: August 20-23 2020
The Settlement, the site of this firm festival favourite, is renowned for its naturally beauty – a perfect reminder that this land is worth saving. And Green Man is all about making sustainability work for you. Its website reminds you that reusable stacking cups are ‘brilliant for carrying five pints at once’, cigarette butt pouches are provided, while nappies even get their own special bins. Its big plan for waste has a double benefit, with festival-goers encouraged to donate their unwanted food and camping equipment to a team from Help Refugees Newport to Calais Aid Collective at the end of the festival. Imagine the sheer joy of not carrying your tent all the way home! Music comes courtesy of the likes of Caribou, Kokoroko, Giant Swan, Goldfrapp, Black Midi and more.
5. EDP Cool Jazz
Where: Lisbon, Portugal | MAP
When: August 3-29 2020
EDP is Europe’s largest electricity provider and so there is a serious reputation on the line when it comes to proving green-minded credentials. The company do this each year by pledging to completely neutralise the carbon footprint of the event, including the travel of all artists. Star-studded summer soirees take place throughout the month of July in two lush outdoor locations just outside the city. Take your pick from a stellar line-up including Herbie Hancock, Lionel Richie, Neneh Cherry and more.
Where: Aarhus, Denmark | MAP
When: June 4-6 2020
Since starting out in 2010, it has always been this progressive festival’s goal to be “the world’s most green and sustainable cultural event”. Similar to Terraforma, Northside aims to, as it puts it, “Lead the Way”. Meaning that after each festival a report is produced considering ways that it can continue pushing boundaries in festival management for a green-hungry age. At the festival itself, “Trash Talkers” help you sort your rubbish into a whopping six sections; the food is 100% organic; and there are no car parks on site. Line up announcements so far include Little Simz, Massive Attack and Robyn.
7. We Love Green
Where: Le Bois de Vincennes, Paris, France | MAP
When: June 6-7 2020
You can see We Love Green as a very well-soundtracked sustainability summer camp. At the Think Tank lab, all ideas on aiding sustainable development are gratefully received – and you’ll be brainstorming alongside leading NGO heads, entrepreneurs and campaigners. Or at the Residence Workshop, the next generation of design students get the opportunity to submit eco-design ideas for the festival that could see them mentored and funded for the next edition. Its line-up includes the most innovative offerings in current big name pop, including Young Thug, Lana Del Ray, Four Tet, Wizkid and Sherelle.